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Question: I am a healthy peri-menopausal woman. How much vitamin D should I be taking and does my husband need to take it as well? A: Vitamin D has several beneficial actions in the body. The daily requirement of Vitamin D for healthy adults is 3,000-5,000 IU, most of which is derived from sunlight exposure. Up to 97% of Canadians are estimated to have inadequate levels, especially during the spring and winter seasons. In the summer months, 10-15 minutes of sunlight exposure to the bare arms and face, between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, without sunscreen provides 400 IU of Vitamin D. A glass of milk provides about 100 IU. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, the following are examples of the risks that may result; decreased bone density, increased breast density and increased incidence of breast cancer, decreased nail thickness, increased muscle pain and weakness, increased inflammation, and impaired response to infection. As well, there are increased chances of developing MS, leukemia, colon cancer, prostate cancer. and more. Everyone should be supplementing with Vitamin D3 at a minimum of 1,000 IU daily. It is suggested to have a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level done to assess if you have an adequate amount. Many people will need 2,000 -3,000 IU daily as a supplement. For people with chronic pain or auto- immune conditions (eg. MS) the dosage required is often higher with some people requiring up to 10,000 IU daily. Ask your physician about having a blood test done to see if your level is adequate before increasing your supplement. Vitamin D3 supplements are available in tablets or drops (D-Drops). If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call Brant Arts at 905-637-3833. I would have loved to attend the Women’s Health Symposium on May 31st in Waterdown but unfortunately I was unable to. I have been suffering from menopausal symptxoms for years and am glad to learn that help is so close by. How can I find out about the information presented at the seminar? Can I book an appointment to discuss with my personal symptoms and develop a treatment plan? A: The Women’s Health Symposium was a great success! We have received lots of positive feedback and many great questions from the over 150 participants. The information presented at the Symposium can all be accessed on our website, www.brantarts.ca under the Women’s Health section. In this section, you can find many great resources with regards to bio-identical hormone replacement, adrenal fatigue & sleep and natural supplementation in Women’s Health. If you simply need help finding an over-the- counter remedy for sleep or hot flashes our staff is happy to point you in the right direction. If you have a multitude of symptoms (check page 7 of the “Menopause Health Questionnaire” on our website) and would like to fine tune your entire vitamin, herbal and prescription regimen you may benefit from a private appointment. You do not need a doctor’s referral to book a consultation, just call Brant Arts Dispensary at (905) 637-3833. The information required to help you prepare for a consultation can also be accessed on our website. We are happy to help you in any way we can. Q: What is adrenal fatigue and is there anything I can do to correct it? A: Adrenal fatigue is a result of extreme stress over time. This stress can be due to multiple causes such as poor health (eg chronic pain), work or family issues (mental stress). When the body first experiences stress, the adrenal gland produces cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin. We call this the “fight or flight” response. If our perception of the stress continues, the gland will continue to produce excess amounts of cortisol causing a feeling of being tired yet wired (eg mind racing while being exhausted). This can result in difficulty sleeping and anxiety. As time progresses the adrenal gland will eventually experience burnout and be unable to produce a sufficient amount of hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. This is very significant in menopause as the ovaries have stopped making these hormones and we rely primarily on the adrenal gland. This burnout phase results in morning fatigue, increased infection, depression, low sex drive, etc. In fact, supplementing with testosterone will not correct low libido alone as long as adrenal fatigue exists. A temporary solution for women with low libido, an essential oil mixture called “Zestra” which provides increased blood flow and sensation. To restore adrenal function, the body requires rest (8 hours a night), elimination of caffeine, daily meditation or yoga, eliminating stressors and increasing pleasurable activities (ie exercise, handiwork), high B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and adaptogenic herbs can also help. Completing the burnout questionnaire on
www.adrenalfatigue.org gives a good indication as to your degree of adrenal fatigue. If you would like further information as to what vitamins/supplements may be best suited to you, please feel free to contact Carolyn, at Brant Arts Dispensary 672 Brant St 905-637-3833.
Q: What does the title certified menopause practitioner mean?? A: A Certified Menopause Practitioner must be a health professional (usually a physician, pharmacist, or nurse) who has passed a competency exam in menopause, administered by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). These practitioners are required to complete continuing education in the area of menopause on a regular basis in order to retain their title. NAMS distributes a monthly journal “Menopause” to its members as well as the latest available research. Patients may book appointments directly with a Menopause Practitioner, who will evaluate all aspects of their health as it relates to menopause and peri-menopause.
Common symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause may include: hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and memory, anxiety, depression, vaginal dryness, and low libido. Many options exist (hormonal and non-hormonal) for treating menopausal symptoms. A Menopause Practitioner can explain the risks and benefits of all possible treatments. Compounded bio-identical hormonal creams, capsules, lozenges and suppositories can be customized to the individual patient. Saliva testing to assess the tissue level of hormones is a helpful assessment tool. Saliva test kits from the Rocky Mountain Analytical Lab in Calgary, Alberta are available through Brant Arts. Lifestyle, diet, osteoporosis, thyroid and adrenal function are also evaluated. This service is a tax deductable medical expense and may be covered by some private insurance companies. To book a private consultation with Carolyn please call Brant Arts Dispensary at 905-637-3833.
Q: I am peri-menopausal and have difficulty falling asleep. Are there any non-prescription medications which can help? A: There are several non-prescription options to help with sleep. In order for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep the body must make a series of chemicals. Some of these chemicals include: tryptophan, 5- HTP, seratonin and melatonin. For one chemical to be converted to the next, magnesium must be present. The best type of magnesium supplement for sleep is Magnesium Glycinate 200-400mg thirty minutes before bed. This is usually the first supplement I would suggest as most women are very deficient in magnesium. Not only will it help with sleep; it also causes muscle relaxation which is very helpful for restless leg syndrome and muscle cramping. Magnesium Oxide which is in many preparations is not well absorbed and will not help with sleep. In combination products of magnesium and calcium, the calcium blocks the magnesium absorption resulting in reduced magnesium effectiveness. Melatonin and 5-HTP are also available as supplements and can be added to the magnesium. In situations where a person’s mind is too active to allow them to fall asleep, a herbal product called Sedatol helps to calm the mind and lower cortisol levels to promote sleep. Progesterone supplementation can also help with sleep. It is commonly low in peri-menopause and is available by prescription as a capsule or compounded cream. To find out which options may be the most helpful for you, contact Carolyn at Brant Arts (905-637-3833) for more assistance. Q: I am 55 and menopausal. What type and amount of calcium should I be taking? A: Choosing the right calcium supplement is important. In women who are menopausal or over 50, the recommended amount is 1,500 mg of elemental calcium daily (1,000 mg for women 19-50). This represents your total calcium intake from both food and supplements. To calculate how much you receive from your diet, visit www.osteoporosis.ca and "click" on the calcium calculator button (upper right corner on the home page). For example, 1 cup of milk or 3/4 cup of plain yogurt is worth 300 mg of elemental calcium. If you require a supplement, calcium carbonate is the least expensive, however it requires a high acid environment to be absorbed. It must be taken after a full meal and no more than 500 mg can be absorbed at any one time. This often requires the total daily dose to be split over the day. For women
taking an acid lowering medication (eg, "Losec") or who want the flexibility of taking their calcium without regard to meals, then calcium citrate is preferred. As calcium may be better incorporated into bone while we sleep, a bedtime dose of calcium citrate is an excellent option. In order to absorb calcium efficiently, it is important for women over 50 to have at least 800 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. However, due to the multiple benefits of Vitamin D3, many physicians are currently recommending all women take 1,000 IU daily. For women who have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, an extract of bovine bone referred to as microcrystalline hydroxyapatite complex (MCHC), is excellent option. For more information on which might be the best type of calcium for you, contact Carolyn at Brant Arts (905-637-3833).
Q: I am a breast cancer survivor and have been suffering with menopausal symptoms. Are there any hormones which are safe for me to take? A: My standard response to this question would be to avoid hormone supplementation and to use homeopathic and trace element therapy. After attending an international seminar on hormone replacement last week, I have changed my position on this. At this conference, Dr. Rebecca Glaser a former breast cancer surgeon presented a review of many of the international studies done with hormones and breast cancer patients. She has developed a website listing this collection of research (www.hormonebalance.org) and is happy for anyone to access it. Go to the data section and use the word data for both the user name and password. After reviewing this extensive literature it became evident that testosterone supplementation to physiological levels was actually cancer protective. In fact women with low testosterone levels were found to have more aggressive cancers and poorer outcomes. This hormone helps with energy levels, muscle tone and libido to name a few. My concern in the past had been that testosterone can be metabolized (processed) in the body to either estradiol or dihydrotestosterone and breast cancer patients do not want an excess of this type of estrogen. By giving testosterone in a cream form (especially a vaginal product) estrogen production is avoided. It is not recommended to take it in capsule/tablet form. Estriol (the weakest natural estrogen) can also be used vaginally for dryness and does not increase breast cancer recurrence. If you would like more information on the formulations used by Dr. Glaser for breast cancer patients, please call Carolyn at 905-637-3833. All compounded hormones require a prescription. Q: I just attended your Women's Health Symposium last Sunday. I gained so much knowledge on the symptoms and management of menopause, peri-menopause, osteoporosis, stress and sleep. Do I need a referral for an appointment to help me select which supplements would benefit me most and compliment my prescription medications?? A: I have had so much wonderful feedback from the symposium held last weekend. We had over 200 women in attendance. More than $4,000 was raised in ticket sales and our owner, Tim Langford, matched this donation to allow us to give $8,600 to the Burlington Teen Tour Band to support their tour to Japan. Many of the women in attendance have asked about booking a 20 minute appointment to review their current medication regimen and for me to help them select supplements to help them be as healthy as possible. Fortunately, the Government of Ontario is allowing an annual 20 minute visit with a pharmacist called a MedsCheck to promote good medication management. This visit may be billable to OHIP. You do not need a referral from your physician but must call ahead to book your appointment. Longer appointments are also available for which the bill can be submitted to your private insurance or submitted as a medical expense with your income tax.
I would like to thank the many women who attended our symposium and the staff from Brant Arts and Langford's IDA who volunteered many hours in making this a success. Special thanks for the support from: Margaret-Anne Cranfield from the Breast Cancer Support Services, Sue Abell of Treadpowerfully, Lesley Megarry of CoreFit and Lynn Curtain-Lang of Edward James. Please don't hesitate to call Brant Arts for any questions or to book an appointment.
Q: A couple of years ago you did a lecture on women's health. Are you planning any public forum this fall? A: I am happy to announce that I will be holding a women's health symposium on Sunday, November 9th from 1-4 p.m. at the Burlington Senior Citizen's Centre in Burlington. I will present information on the symptoms and treatment of peri-menopause, menopause, osteoporosis, adrenal fatigue and heart health. Natural and traditional options of treatment will be discussed. Exercise, diet and vitamin supplementation will also be included. Techniques for a proper breast self-examination will be reviewed by the Breast Cancer Support Services Office. Sue Abell will lead us in two exercise/stretch breaks and Lesley Megarry will end our session with relaxation. Refreshments will be served. This will be an excellent opportunity to gather information on women's health, regardless of your age. Tickets are $20.00 and all proceeds will be donated to the Burlington Teen Tour Band's tour to Japan. Due to the anticipated demand, there will be limited tickets available at the door. I am suggesting tickets be purchased in advance at Brant Arts Dispensary in Burlington or Langford's IDA in Waterdown. Tickets can be pre-paid and reserved for pick up at the door. Q: I am a 45 year old male. Last month I read your article about a peri-menopausal woman who suffers from daytime anxiety and lack of energy. She complained of feeling overwhelmed with many responsibilities and that she was often short tempered and over reacted to things that didn't used to bother her. This describes me perfectly. As a man can I also take the herbal remedy you described? I believe it is called Relora. A: Yes!!! Relora has no hormonal properties and can be taken by men and women. Dealing with the stress of work and family commitments can take a large toll over time on both men and women. . The best product I have found to have a calming effect while providing extra energy is called Relora. It can dramatically improve all the complaints you have mentioned. This herbal product is a combination of phellodendron and magnolia tree extracts. It is usually taken as one capsule in the morning and afternoon. Relora helps to decrease stress by reducing cortisol levels and may even promote better sleep for people whose mind is too active at night. This product has many other benefits including weight loss. To find out more about Relora and other natural products which can reduce anxiety and stress call Carolyn at 905-637-3833. Q: I am a peri-menopausal woman who suffers from daytime anxiety and lack of energy. I often feel overwhelmed with all things I must manage during the day and end up being short tempered and over react to things that didn't used to bother me. Is there anything non-prescription that could help me with this? A: I have many women who come to me describing the exact same set of symptoms. Dealing with the stress of work and family commitments can take a large toll over time. The best product I have found to have a calming effect while providing extra energy is called Relora. It can dramatically improve all the complaints you have mentioned. This herbal product is a combination of phellodendron and magnolia tree extracts. It is usually taken as one capsule in the morning and afternoon. Relora helps to decrease stress by reducing cortisol levels and may even promote better sleep for people whose mind is too active at night. This product has many other benefits including weight loss. To find out more about Relora and other natural products which can reduce anxiety call Carolyn at 905-637-3833. Q: As a healthy woman entering menopause, are there any vitamins/supplements which I should be taking preventatively? A: It used to be thought that if we all ate a well balanced diet following Canada's food guide and exercised 3-4 times per week that we were doing our part to prevent disease. Yet many of us don't eat the proper daily allowance of fruits, vegetables and protein and our soils tend to be depleted of many of the necessary nutrients. In the winter months our produce travels on trucks for days, which depletes its' nutritional value. Proper nutrition is essential for the body to function. Taking a good multiple vitamin helps to provide the basic necessary nutrients. A Vitamin B complex is excellent for nourishing the nervous system, providing support to the adrenal gland and promoting healthy estrogen metabolism. Calcium intake in menopausal women should be 1500 mg daily and Vitamin D 1,000 units daily for everyone due to its' preventative properties for many diseases. In countries where fish is predominant in
the diet, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is significantly less than in North America. This makes a good fish oil (omega 3) an excellent preventative supplement for heart health, nourishing the brain and skin and decreasing inflammation. In countries where concentrated green tea is part of the daily diet, cancer rates are much lower than North America. Many people are taking green tea capsules daily as a preventative. Anti-oxidants like Vitamin C are also beneficial. The problem is that large double-blind placebo trials don't exist which can prove that taking all these supplements actually prolongs life. It makes sense that they should be helpful and in most cases will not cause any harm. Knowing your family history can help direct you to some good preventative choices. If you were to take every preventative supplement the cost can become prohibitive. Some prescription medications can also deplete nutrients and it is wise to supplement in these cases. To help choose what supplements may be beneficial for you don't hesitate to contact Carolyn at Brant Arts Dispensary.
Q: Are there any natural products which can be taken to decrease joint inflammation? A: There are several natural options to decrease swelling. Traditionally, prescription and non- prescription strength anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) have been taken to reduce swelling. They can cause adverse effects such as: irritation of the stomach lining, fluid retention, increased blood pressure and decreased blood flow to the kidneys. Due to these adverse effects, they are not appropriate medications for many people and often a stomach protectant is required. Products like: fish oil, Traumeel, Wobenzyme ,Kaprex, MSM and RhusTox are a few natural alternatives which don't affect blood pressure or cause stomach irritation. My first choice is omega 3 fish oil with an EPA content of over 1,000 mg daily. Fish oil has benefits for eczema and psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, depression and inflammation. Traumeel is available in ointment/gel, oral drops and dissolving tablets. It decreases inflammation and prevents bruising when used after trauma. Wobenzyme is a capsule taken three times daily, which enzymatically removes inflammatory chemicals. It promotes healing while it reduces swelling. Kaprex is another natural product taken twice daily to reduce swelling. If only a few joints are involved, compounded prescription strength anti-inflammatory creams can be prepared in various strengths. If you have questions as to which products may be the most beneficial, call Carolyn at 905- 637-3833. Question: My husband has decided to quit smoking as part of a New Years resolution. What could you suggest to help him quit? A: First of all - congratulations to your husband. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and 50% of smokers will die prematurely due to smoking related causes. Successful quitting is based primarily on the quitter's ability and readiness to make a significant behaviour change. This only occurs when the quitter believes in the personal benefits of quitting and also has the confidence that they will be successful. Using a smoking cessation product can double the rate of success in staying a non-smoker. Counselling through self-help groups (available through the Halton Health Department) or individually also increases success rates. The newest and most successful product to date is a prescription called "Champix". It stimulates the nicotine receptor in the brain to give a similar sensation of pleasure while blocking actual nicotine from doing so. In this way no reward is derived from having a cigarette and yet by the drug providing some of the favourable feelings which cigarettes give, it makes the quitting easier. "Zyban" is also a prescription medication which helps with the nicotine addiction. It was originally discovered as an anti-depressant. Nicotine gum, patches and inhalers (actually looks like a cigarette with a nicotine liquid cartridge) are used as a nicotine replacement to cigarettes and are slowly weened off over a 12 week period. A compounded nicotine lollipop is available at some compounding pharmacies with a prescription. The best method is the one that suits the quitter's lifestyle and has the least side effects for that individual. Discussion with your pharmacist or physician will help determine what strategies are best for you. The "Smoker's Help Line", Lung Association and Heart and Stroke Association are also excellent resources. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call Carolyn at Brant Arts (905) 637-3833. Q: Is there anything I can take when I feel a cold coming on? I want to avoid getting sicker and requiring antibiotics? A: Most colds start with a virus. Increasing fluid intake (especially water), having more rest and taking 2000 mg of Vitamin C will all be helpful. Ginger, zinc and garlic are also natural anti-virals. There are also many commercially available natural anti-viral agents which can prevent a cold from progressing to a bacterial infection. A new form of garlic called "Allimax" contains a standardized form of allicin (the active ingredient in garlic) which is not inactivated by the stomach acid the way many other garlic products are. Ten capsules daily for 3 days have shown amazing results. A preventative dose of 1 daily can be taken all season. Garlic is a blood thinner and should not be used if you are on Coumadin. "Sambucol" is a wild elderberry extract which can be used as one teaspoonful daily preventatively or in higher doses at the onset of a cold. "Cold Fx" is a unique extract of North American Ginseng which helps activate the immune system. It can be taken as 1 daily preventatively or at higher doses over 3 days at the onset of a cold. Gripp Heel and Engystol are homeopathic products which increase immune system activity as well. Echinecea is for short term use only at a cold's onset as regular use can promote auto-immune diseases in people with a predisposition to such conditions. To find out what option(s) may be best for you- contact Carolyn at Brant Arts Dispensary, 905-637-3833.
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